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Recycle CFL light bulbs at Home Depot

December 14th, 2008 · 6 Comments · Random Stuff

I became a huge proponent of CFL (compact fluorescent) light bulbs about three years ago. For those that don’t know, CFL light bulbs are the funny looking twisty type light bulbs. They use about 25% as much electricity as a standard incandescent light bulb, so, for instance, a 25watt CFL puts out as much light as a standard 100watt incandescent bulb.

Why I became a CFL fan:
When we moved into a new house (an older house actually, but new to us) about 3 years ago, our monthly electric bill jumped from about $40/month (at our old place) to over $100/month at the new place. The new house wasn’t built to let in a lot of natural light, so we used the lights more. In addition, the house was built when chandelier-style light fixtures and movie-star-dressing-room bathroom light strip fixtures must have been the rage. In the living room we had two chandelier fixtures with six 60watt incandescent light bulbs each (2x6x60=720 watts) and in the kids’ bathroom we had the Hollywood-dressing-room style light strip with six 60watt frosted bulbs (6×60=360watts). I did the math and figured out that it was the incandescent light bulbs that were slurping down the electricity. In addition, our electric company has tiered pricing (the more you use, the more you pay per watt for the additional usage). The incandescent bulbs were pushing us into the more expensive rate tier. To cut our electricity usage (and thus cut our electric bill), I put two 25watt (100watt equivalent each) CFLs in each chandelier fixture (100watts now instead of 720watts) and two 25watt CFLs in the offending kids’ bathroom (50watts now instead of 360watts), and then went throughout the house and replaced bulbs left and right.  The next month our electric bill was back down to around $40.

The Benefit of CFLs.

CFLs save electricity. As stated above, CFL’s produce the same amount of light with only one quarter the power consumption. We haven’t gotten an electricity-hungry flat screen TV yet, and if we’d just replace our older refrigerator with an energy efficient energy star new fridge, what with all our CFL light bulbs and now our LED outdoor Christmas lights, I think we’d have the “greenest” house (electricity wise) in our neighborhood.

The Downside of CFLs.

Don’t count on 10,000 hours! Although CFL’s are supposed to last 10,000 hours, I have found they have a limited number of on-off cycles. The CFL bulbs in our bathrooms tend to only last 1 or 2 years (we have two little kids). If the bulbs get turned off and on a lot, you won’t get the promised lifespan.

CFL’s can be expensive. CFLs cost more than incandescent bulbs, but you’re supposed to make up for it in the longer life and the electricity savings. I first bought my CFLs at Costco in 4 packs for about $8 ($2 per bulb). However, our local utility company (Southern California Edison) subsidizes CFL bulbs to encourage energy conservation, so I recently was able to get 12 CFL bulbs at a local supermarket for $3 (25cents per bulb!).

CFL’s contain MERCURY and can be bad for the environment.
I recently found out that CFL light bulbs contain mercury (less now than when they first came out I think) and shouldn’t be discarded in the regular trash and thus end up in a landfill. My question then became what to do with the burned out CFL bulbs (from the kids’ bathroom). A month ago I noticed somewhere online a statement that one could drop used CFL’s off at any Home Depot returns desk for recycling. Well, last week I was a Home Depot and sure enough, there is a nicely printed box at the return desk that says something like “RECYCLE CFL LIGHT BULBS HERE“, so it’s true.

Anyway, the trade show guru says Help The Environment and change your incandescent light bulbs to CFL (compact flourescent) light bulbs. Make them a Christmas gift to your spouse if you want – you’ll be giving a gift to the environment as well (should I start singing “I’m dreaming of a Green Christmas“?). And when your CFL light bulbs burn out, recycle your CFL light bulbs at Home Depot.

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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Rudy // Dec 16, 2008 at 1:43 am

    I went to home depot 2 weeks ago to try and dispose of a burnt out CFL light bulb, and the Home Depot people didn’t know how to get rid of it! Apparently, the store I was in had no facility for it.

    On the other hand, places like Walmart does have it. So I think Walmart is greener than HD.

  • 2 The Trade Show Guru // Dec 16, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    Hi Rudy,
    Thanks for letting me know. I purposely waited to write this post until I went to a Home Depot to confirm it worked. The Home Depot I went to had a box at the return counter. Sounds like yours didn’t, or the workers didn’t know. Bummer. I didn’t know that Walmart recycles CFL bulbs. That’s a great option since they’re everywhere. Thanks. ~ Steve

  • 3 Will // Dec 17, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Hi Steve. I had forgotten about Home Depot taking them back. That is great for people likeyou and me, but most people just throw them away. It is too much trouble for them to take them back to the store. Sad.

    Sorry your comment would not take on one of my posts. I linked all my cfl posts to my name on this comment. Which post was the problem so I can look into it. I hae never seen that error before a nd all my posts, even old ones, should accept comments.

  • 4 The Trade Show Guru // Dec 17, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    hey Will, I like to hope that people who don’t recycle their CFL bulbs do so out of lack of knowledge (not knowing about the mercury in CFLs) rather than due to laziness. It’s pretty easy to save them up in a box in the garage and then take them to Home Depot when you’re going there anyway.
    Cool feature on linking to a search. I never know about that. Anyone that wants to read more about CFLs should click on Will’s link above. ~ Steve

  • 5 quinny kinderwagen // Dec 4, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    This is a genuinely beneficial read for me, Must confess that you’re one of the very best bloggers I ever saw.Thanks for posting this informative post.

  • 6 The Trade Show Guru // Dec 19, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    quinny,
    Shucks… you are making me blush!
    Actually, I have mixed feelings about CFL bulbs these days. I like them where they are left on for a long time, and don’t get turned on and off very often, but in our kids’ bathroom where the lights are turned on and off at least a dozen or two times a day, I have to replace the bulbs about every three months! CFLs don’t handle being turned on and off a lot very well.
    Thanks for your comment. Glad I could “shed some light” on this subject for you.

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